10 Ways to Make the Most of Your Veg

Vegetables are packed with nutrients, so don’t let any of them go to waste. Embrace the ‘root to stem’ trend of using the whole vegetable and save money. 


1. Garnish

Carrot greens and celery leaves taste a bit like parsley and are delicious as a garnish. Remove any bitterness by blanching first (plunging into boiling water to soften). Use blanched carrot tops – the leafy green part that comes with bunched carrots – in pesto (with basil or coriander). Sauté celery leaves with diced celery, onion and garlic and use as a base for casseroles.

2. Keep the Stems 

Don’t neglect kale stems – they’re just as full of vitamins and minerals as the leaves. As they can be tough, they’re best blended into juice. Try with apple, lemon, ginger and mint for a refreshing pick-me-up.

3. Reuse the Leaves 

If you’re cooking cauliflower, don’t toss the leaves and stem. Blitz the stem with the florets to make cauliflower ‘rice’, or cube it and simmer in a curry. The leaves are great roasted: rub in oil and seasoning, then put in a hot oven for 15 minutes, or until crisp, and toss with chopped chilli, nuts and herbs.

4. Keep the Skins 

Potato peelings are the most nutritious (and tastiest!) parts of spuds, as they’re where most of the fibre is stored. For the perfect pre-dinner nibble, give the potatoes a good scrub, peel, then toss the peelings with a little oil, seasoning and a pinch of smoked paprika. Put on a baking tray lined with nonstick baking paper and roast at gas 6, 200°C, fan 180°C until crispy, tossing once or twice during cooking. This also works with parsnip and carrot peelings.

5. Make a Stock 

When trimming asparagus, don’t chuck out the woody stems: they’re perfect for making a delicate stock for soups and risottos. Cover with cold water, bring to the boil then simmer for 25 minutes before straining. You can also add the off-cuts of other green veg – the green part of leeks, spring onion ends, radish tops, watercress stalks; all work well.

6. Add shavings to Salad 

Trim and discard any nobbly edges from your broccoli stalk then dice or slice it and use in stir-fries or pasta dishes. The stalk will need a little longer to cook than the florets. Or use a Y-shaped vegetable peeler to make fine shavings to add raw to a salad.

7. Infuse 

With their delicate, dill-like appearance and aniseed flavour, fennel fronds make a gorgeous garnish for fish and salads. You can also place them underneath fish prior to roasting, which will infuse the fish with a lovely liquorice flavour. Alternatively, steep the fronds in hot water for a soothing fennel tea.

8. Add Extra Falvour to Salad 

Cook beetroot tops as you would chard or spinach leaves. Wash well, then sauté the leaves with olive oil and garlic and stir through pasta. The bright red stems can be added raw to a salad – try them with rocket, shredded carrot, toasted pumpkin seeds and a mustard dressing.

9. Add Crunch 

The dark outer leaves of a Savoy cabbage can look a bit shabby, but they are actually very nutritious. Wash thoroughly, blanch to soften then use as the wrapping for baked fish or meatballs. Or shred finely and stir-fry with bacon and onion. Stir in a little cream and mix into mash.

10. Make Snacks 

Don’t throw away squash or pumpkin seeds. Clean away any pulp and rinse (discard small or squashed seeds; the plumper the better). For a crunchy snack, toss with a little oil, cumin seeds, chilli flakes and sea salt, and roast on a baking sheet at gas 3, 150°C, fan 130°C for 15–20 minutes, until crisp.